Small but nice! This statement is best for this tiny but beautiful and diverse Central American country. Nestled between the Caribbean and the Pacific, the country counts only scarcely 5 million inhabitants, which have the nickname "Ticos". Over the past few decades, Costa Rica has become a veritable hotspot for volunteering in Latin America. Not without reason! Because Costa Rica offers not only unique nature and nice people but also a very special flair for globetrotters, dropouts, surfers and volunteers. "La pura vida" - that is the motto of the Costa Ricans and means something like "pure life". This relaxed attitude to life is actually encountered across the country and is the best way volunteers from all over the world to experience the stay abroad in Costa Rica, while volunteering, learning Spanish and enjoying the great climate year-round.
Costa Rica is known for its dream beaches both in the east on the Caribbean coast and in the west on the Pacific coast. The interior lures with a lovely, beautiful mountain landscape, with volcanoes and evergreen rainforests. One of the main attractions for both visitors and volunteers are the countless wildlife that can be seen up close in Costa Rica.
Protecting the environment and wildlife is a very high priority in Costa Rica, so the country names more than 20 national parks in a relatively small area of just 20,000 m². In total, around 27% of Costa Rica's land area is protected - more than any other country! So, it is not surprising that in Costa Rica volunteers from abroad have plenty of opportunities to participate in local environmental and animal welfare projects.
Many of the local aid projects rely on the cooperation of foreigners who provide support as part of an international voluntary service. Without this valuable help, many volunteer projects would not last long, because labor and financial resources are scarce and difficult to obtain. With volunteering in Costa Rica, you can really make a difference, contribute to biodiversity or support social programs for children and adolescents.
With your voluntary commitment you not only help others but also yourself! How? The answer is quite plausible, because by volunteering in Costa Rica you can expand your personal horizons, make life experiences abroad, acquire new abilities and you have the opportunity to explore an absolute dreamland.
Working as a volunteer can add value to your CV and future career path. Why? It may not sound so logical at first glance, because you do not work in any career, however, a voluntary service gives you the so-called "soft skills", meaning certain characteristics that you prove with a stay abroad. In today's globalized world, employers value tolerance, adaptability, intercultural understanding, and team spirit. And it is precisely these skills that you acquire as a volunteer during your experience abroad!
Helping hands of dedicated volunteers are needed in Costa Rica in various areas. The possibilities to volunteer in Costa Rica are manifold. If you care about the well-being of others and humanitarian aid, then social assistance projects for children and adolescents from high-risk social groups, health volunteer programs, or teaching abroad, are a good option for you.
Nature is Costa Rica's greatest treasure and through various environmental protection projects both private and state nature reserves are maintained and promoted. For nature-loving volunteers interested in preserving Mother Earth, this type of volunteering is particularly attractive. The biodiversity in Costa Rica is one of the largest in the world and even in this small country volunteers have the chance to live and work in different vegetation zones.
Is animal welfare an issue that you have always wanted to actively support? The reckless exploitation of helpless animals makes you angry and you want to help do something about it? Then you are in good hands in one of the animal welfare projects in Costa Rica. Wildlife animals are maintained and rehabilitated in animal rescue centers across the country. Many have been confiscated by the customs for illegal trafficking, but even animals found injured or malnourished find a temporary or permanent home in the sanctuaries.
An absolute leader among the volunteers in Costa Rica are the volunteer projects to protect sea turtles. These come to both the Pacific and Caribbean beaches to nest there. Anyone who has experienced live, what an indescribably exciting experience it is to see these huge creatures slowly crawl out of the sea, then to watch as they painstakingly dig a large hole in the ground and then lay down to 60 eggs, can understand why volunteering with sea turtles is so popular among volunteers. In these volunteer projects, you can experience first-hand how the small turtles hatch and then seek their way into the sea. The sea turtles definitely have something mystical and this volunteer work definitely gets under your skin.
With such a large variety of volunteer projects, the decision is certainly hard for you! Before you commit yourself, first of all, be clear about where your own strengths and interests lie. What are your skills and knowledge that you can best use? What good cause do you find worthy to support? If you want to "give" your help and time to various volunteer projects, consider whether a combination of different volunteer positions might not be best for you. So, you help more - experience more - and even save money!
The volunteer programs in Costa Rica that you find on our homepage are all proven projects. They have been visited and evaluated by us or our local people. In each program description you will find detailed information about the project, the tasks that the volunteers perform, the type of accommodation and food, the project location, and many other useful hints. In the Quick Facts, we have clearly summarized the basic data for our volunteers so that you can see at a glance whether the project meets your desired criteria.
All volunteer projects available in Costa Rica can be seen here: Volunteering in Costa Rica
Social welfare projects dedicated to the well-being of children, adolescents, the disabled or the elderly are mainly available in the cities, primarily in San José. The state capital is located inland and has very good transport links to all parts of the country. Volunteers in San José have many opportunities to explore the rest of the country during free time. Volunteering at schools is possible not only in San José but also in such wonderful places as Samara Beach. There the dream of being a volunteer teacher directly on the beach with year-round wonderful temperatures can become true.
Ecological volunteering projects are spread all over the country and each region has a different vegetation zone, making the combination of volunteering in national parks in different locations particularly attractive and appealing.
The volunteer animal welfare projects are located mainly inland, sometimes only a few kilometers from the ocean. The volunteer projects are usually in locations with lush nature, often in the middle of the rainforest, where the native animals feel most comfortable and can be kept and rehabilitated under suitable conditions.
Last but not least, the sea turtle projects! The sites for these volunteer projects do not choose the project leaders but the turtles themselves, since sea turtles only come to certain stretches of beach, year after year, to lay their eggs there. Volunteers can choose between locations on the Caribbean coast as well as on the Pacific ocean.
Imagine you want to get in touch as much as possible with locals on your trip abroad, understand their mentality, achieve a lot in your volunteer project and get to know the local culture. For this a communication basis is the alpha and omega! Living in a country whose language you do not speak can be frustrating very quickly. Our tip for all volunteers who want to take part in a stay abroad in Costa Rica: Learn spanish! Best in a Spanish course in Costa Rica itself, because you have great language schools to choose from. Students can either head to the exciting capital city of San José or study Spanish on the beach in Tamarindo or Samara.
A Spanish course in Costa Rica also makes it easier for you to get started in the country, you can cope with the culture shock faster and immediately find a connection with like-minded people and make friends for life.
Another tip for those who still have not been convinced to learn Spanish in Costa Rica: in many volunteer projects English is spoken, especially among the volunteers. Having said that, no knowledge of Spanish is not an exclusion criterion for volunteering in Costa Rica, but it is always advisable to have at least basic knowledge.• Spanish Course in San José